Projects run deep for SBA honoree

Growth: His company, which managed ocean operations for an underwater TV broadcast from the Titanic, has grown from three to 35 employees.

May 06, 1999|By Shanon D. Murray | Shanon D. Murray,SUN STAFF

David Jourdan, whose company managed ocean operations for the Discovery Channel's live underwater broadcast from the Titanic last summer, will be named the 1999 Maryland Small Business Person of the Year today.

Jourdan, who is president of Nauticos Corp., an oceanographic and navigational research firm in Hanover, and 14 other winners will be honored at the 15th Annual U.S. Small Business Administration awards breakfast at Martin's West.

Two of those winners -- Matthew R. Horowitz of Valderas, August & Horowitz in Columbia; and Amanda Zinn of Women Entrepreneurs of Baltimore Inc. -- were selected to compete on a regional level, said Joyce Evans, spokeswoman for the SBA's Baltimore district office.

Horowitz was selected as the state's Accountant Advocate winner, and Zinn was selected as the state's Welfare to Work SBA Associate winner.

For business owners to be considered for the award, their companies must have demonstrated staying power, growth in employment, increase in sales, innovation, response to adversity and contributions to the community, the SBA said.

"I don't look on this honor as a personal achievement as much as a company achievement," Jourdan said.

Jourdan started Nauticos, then known as Meridian Sciences Inc., in 1986 with three employees. Before that, he was a physicist at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel for six years.

Nauticos, now with 35 employees, had revenue of $3.2 million in 1998. The company is expected to have $3 million in revenue in the first half of 1999 and plans to double that by the end of the year, Jourdan said.

Jourdan was nominated by Lois Warden, a NationsBank vice president who also serves as his personal and business account officer in Columbia.

"David is the kind of person who is always thinking. He's very focused on his business, but he cares a lot about his employees," Warden said.

"What Nauticos does is much harder than we think, and Jourdan still managed to increase sales each year nearly 20 percent," said Evans, of the Baltimore SBA office.

In March, Jourdan changed the name of the privately held company from Meridian Sciences to Nauticos and moved the headquarters from Columbia to Hanover.

The primary reason for the change was to diversify the company from its government contracting status, Jourdan said. Currently, government contracting -- primarily with the U.S. Navy -- makes up 75 percent of Nauticos' work.

The company would like to reduce that to 50 percent, Jourdan said. The other half of the business would focus on marine technology and managing expeditions similar to the one coordinated for the Discovery Channel, he said.

Nauticos was hired by Bethesda-based Discovery Communications Inc. to help coordinate the August filming of the Titanic, what many consider the most famous 20th-century shipwreck.

"We're very focused on getting this new venture off the ground," Jourdan said of the renamed company, adding that it is seeking $5 million, and has garnered $500,000 so far from individual investors.

One of Nauticos' current projects is a cooperative research agreement with the Navy, in which it provides the Navy with manpower and analysis for an underwater mapping project around Hawaii.

In return, the Navy is allowing the company to use its equipment for an expedition to search the Pacific for ships that sank during the 1942 Battle of Midway.

Business winners

Winners of the 1999 Maryland Small Business Awards include:

Small Business Person of the Year: David Jourdan, president of Nauticos

Accountant Advocate: Matthew R. Horowitz, of Valderas, August & Horowitz

Entrepreneurial Success: Jerry South, president of Towne Park Ltd.

Financial Services Advocate: Charles Weller, FCNB Bank

Media Advocate: Phyllis Greenbaum, ZIP Publishing

Minority Advocate: Kenneth Oliver, Development Credit Fund

Small Business Exporters: Raymond Sicotte and Ash Gorwara, American Microwave Corp.

Veteran Small Business Advocate: Harry Williams, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Welfare to Work Entrepreneur: Barbara Robinson, Star Associates

Welfare to Work Small Business Owner: GiGi Guzman, GiTech

Welfare to Work SBA Associate: Amanda Zinn, Women Entrepreneurs of Baltimore Inc.

Small Business Training Advocate: Carolyn Brooks, HotSpots

Women in Business Advocate: Patricia Dean, owner of Hair Fashions Unlimited

Young Entrepreneur of the Year: Diana Richards, president of the Severna Park Voice

District Director's Award: Stanley Tucker, Maryland Management Group Ventures

Pub Date: 5/06/99

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